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Starry eyes

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Science  14 Dec 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6420, pp. 1230-1235
DOI: 10.1126/science.362.6420.1230

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Summary

Despite the two space telescopes at the top of astronomers' wish list—the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)—remaining firmly on the ground because of technical hitches and budget problems, it is time for astronomers to look skyward and dream even bigger dreams. The decadal survey in astrophysics, which sets priorities for future projects on the ground and in space, kicked off last month and it must decide which of four proposed successors to the JWST and WFIRST most deserves to launch as a NASA flagship observatory, sometime in the 2030s. On the following pages, Science examines those dream telescopes: the Large Ultraviolet Optical Infrared Surveyor, a 15-meter-wide giant with 40 times the light-collecting power of the Hubble Space Telescope; the smaller Habitable Exoplanet Observatory, which will scrutinize nearby stars for signs of life; the Lynx X-ray Observatory, which would gather photons the universe's first black holes; and the Origins Space Telescope, which will study the cool infrared light from the gas and dust that fuel star and planet formation.